Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of the uterus. It results in the inability to get pregnant and ends menstruation. The four types of hysterectomies include a partial hysterectomy (removal of uterus), a total or complete hysterectomy (removal of uterus and cervix), a total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes and ovaries) and radical hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, upper portion of vagina and some surrounding tissues and lymph nodes).
During the procedure, either general or regional anesthesia is given to the patient. The surgeon will remove the uterus through an incision into the abdomen or vagina. According to clevelandclinic.org, the specific surgical method varies with the needs of the individual. The procedure typically lasts between one and three hours.
Recovery from hysterectomy, like all surgical procedures, takes time. Patients typically remain in the hospital for one to two days for post-surgery care, according to womenshealth.gov. All types of hysterectomies require approximately four to eight weeks of at-home recovery time, except for vaginal or laparoscopic. Since this is the least invasive, women typically return to normal activity in one to two weeks.
Post surgery, patients will cease to have their menstrual cycle. Individuals may also feel bloated and experience light vaginal bleeding for about four to six weeks. If ovaries remain intact, patients will not experience hormone related side effects. If ovaries are removed, patients may experience symptoms associated with menopause (in particular, hot flashes). According to clevelandclinic.org, discomfort, swelling and bruising around the incision site are also quite common but will disappear in four to six weeks.
Some degree of skin bruising is normal after a hysterectomy. Patients can expect bruises to initially be green and blue and turn orange and yellow with time. The entire bruising process should take weeks, according to "The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy" by Dr. Lauren Streicher. If blood vessels burst, blood may build up under the patient's skin and result in bruising and swelling of the abdomen (this is referred to as haematoma). If bruises do not go away or last longer than six to eight weeks, the patient should consult her physician.
Bruising is a natural process of healing, post hysterectomy. Other natural processes include slight numbness, burning and skin irritation around the incision site, swollen abdomen and scarring along the incision, according to clevelandclinic.org. Warning signs of possible infection and complication include high fever (of 101+ degrees F), dizziness, abdominal pain that is not relieved by pain medication, headaches, vomiting, burning during urination, muscle aches and pus draining from the incision site.
Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.